How to Install Wire Rope Clips

Have you ever wondered how to correctly install wire rope clips and what the phrase "Never saddle a dead horse." means? Below you will find our informative video explaining these things.
If you need help selecting the best wire rope clip for your project, head over to our YouTube Channel or Wire Rope Clip page for more videos and information.

If you would prefer simple text and picture explanations of the information, keep reading.
If you have any questions, please contact our team using the link at the end of the article. We look forward to helping you get your next rigging project started.
If you are looking to form an eye in your wire rope or needing to join two cables together with a lap splice, below you will find information on how to make that connection using wire rope clips.
A good foundation for installing these clips properly is knowing the terminology.
Parts of the Wire Rope Clip
Wire Rope Clip Parts
The parts of the clip are: the saddle, sometimes called the base or body, u-bolt, and nuts.
Live End
Live End of Cable
The live end of the cable is the longer portion of the cable that extends to the other connection point. It will be holding the load.
Dead End
Dead End of Cable
The dead end is the short portion that is turned back just so the wire rope clips have something else to grab.
When the clips are used to make an eye or an end on the cable, it is called a termination.
The entire group of components is called an assembly.
Turnback is the length of the cable from the base of the eye to the end of the dead end.
“Never Saddle a Dead Horse”
Never Saddle a Dead Horse
It means to never apply the saddle of the clip to the dead end of the rope.
Materials Needed
A tape measure, seizing tape, a torque wrench, reference information, and the proper size clips for your cable.
On our wire rope clip page, you will find reference information, such as, the number of clips required for each termination, the amount of torque to apply to the nuts, and the turnback length.
Prepping for Assembly
Frayed Cable End Seized Cable End
Cut off any unraveled or kinked portion of the cable. It is best to seize the cable with tape before cutting to keep the end tight. If you don’t need to cut the cable, be sure to wrap it tightly to keep the structure of the cable in its intended form.
Large Cable Seized with Soft Wire
For larger cable, soft wire may be a better choice to hold the cable end together.
Measuring Turnback
Turnback is the length of the cable from the base of the eye to the end of the dead end.
First, measure and mark the turnback length specified in your reference material.
Measuring Turnback Length
Next, determine how large the eye in your cable will be and mark the live end of the cable where the turnback mark is.
Marking Live End Turnback Length
Lastly, mark the live end where the dead-end ends.
Marking Dead End Turnback Length
Applying First Wire Rope ClipNever Saddle a Dead Horse
“Never Saddle a Dead Horse” is a common phrase to help people remember the proper orientation to apply the clip. It means to never apply the saddle of the clip to the dead end of the rope.
Line up your markings and apply the first clip to the assembly.
Space the wire rope clip one saddle length from the end of the dead end.
Tighten and torque the nuts being sure they are clean, dry, and free from lubrication.
Alternate between the nuts to ensure even pressure. The use of a torque wrench will help to achieve the recommended torque required for holding the load.
Kinked Wire Rope
Be careful not to over-tighten the nuts as it can permanently kink the wire rope and lead to premature failure.
Apply the second clip to the assembly, remembering to put the saddle on the live end.
Push it snug up against the thimble. If you aren’t using a thimble push it up to the lines you’ve marked earlier.
Applying Second Wire Rope ClipApplying Wire Rope Clip Without Thimble
Hand tighten the nuts, remembering to alternate between the nuts for even pressure.
If your assembly requires 3 or more clips, space them evenly between the first two clips you applied, remembering to never saddle a dead horse and to never alternate the clip orientation.
Applying 3 or more Wire Rope Clips

Begin tightening the remaining clips starting with the clip closest to the dead end and working back to the eye.
Remove any slack in the cable between the clips by pushing the slack to the eye as you work your way down tightening all the clips in the termination.
After tightening all of the clips, it is important to do a first load on the assembly to seat all of the components.
Load Testing Assembly
Load the assembly with a load equal or greater to the load you expect it to see in service.
Inspect, tighten, and re-torque all the clips.
Now, your wire rope clip cable assembly is ready for service.
Termination Efficiency
After proper assembly, a wire rope clip termination can be expected to hold 80% of the breaking strength of the wire rope for cable diameters 1/8” through 7/8”.
This number is typically referred to as termination efficiency.
Sizes 1” through 3 ½” has a termination efficiency of 90%.
For comparison, a swaged sleeve termination has a termination efficiency of 90% to 96%.
Swaged Sleeve
A benefit of using wire rope clips instead of swaged sleeves for making a termination is their ability to be reused, but there are some precautions you should take to ensure your wire rope clip is still fit for service.
The first thing to check is to make sure the u-bolt fits into the saddle with no force required. If it is difficult to mate these two components your U-bolt or saddle may be bent, and you should discard the clip.
Check the threads on the u-bolt to make sure they aren’t damaged, and that the nuts thread onto them easily.
Inspect the peaks and ridges on the saddle for damage or gouging.
Lastly, when installing the reused clips, ensure they can accept the recommended torque.
Using a Pulley as a Thimble
Using a Pulley as a Thimble
If you are using a pulley as a thimble, add 1 more clip to the assembly being sure to space the clips at least 1 saddle length apart from each other. The first clip near the pulley should be 1 pulley diameter distance from the center of the pulley and achieve a 60 degree included angle between the live and dead end.
Fist Grip Clip
Fist grip clips are a newer take on wire rope clips and are designed to make installation easier. Their saddles are mirrored allowing them to be installed in any orientation relative to the live and dead ends of the rope ensuring you can’t saddle a dead horse. In addition, they only have one nut on each side so a wrench can rotate freely when tightening.
To install, use the same procedure as traditional wire rope clips, but be sure to check our Fist Grip Clip page for the minimum number of clips required and recommended turnback and torque values.
Creating an Assembly with Vinyl Coated Cable
The size of vinyl coated cable and the wire rope clips that fit may be confusing as some manufacturers measure different things. At E-Rigging, we list vinyl coated cable by the cable diameter.
Sizing Vinyl Coated Cable
The coating adds thickness, which is called the finished or final diameter, and is listed on our website’s product pages . It typically coincides with the next size larger cable or clip.
For example, 3/16” vinyl coated cable is coated to ¼” diameter. After you strip the coating off of the cable, it will still be 3/16” so you’d use a 3/16” clip.
Stripping the vinyl off of the cable in the area where the clips will be installed is recommended for maximum strength.
Stripping Vinyl Coated CableStripping Vinyl Coated Cable
Measure and mark the cable and turnback just as you would if the cable was uncoated. Where the end of the dead end meets the live end is where you’ll want to start stripping.
Once marked, strip the vinyl coating off and apply the clips just as you normally would on uncoated cable.
Applying wire rope clips over vinyl coated cable may be preferable to achieve a certain look or feel, or when corrosion resistance is valued over strength.
Vinyl Coated Cable Termination

Please note that applying the wire rope clips over the vinyl coating will greatly reduce the strength, and you should test your connections before use. Never use this method for critical applications as the load holding properties are severely reduced and unpredictable.

To size the connection properly, measure the outside diameter of the coated cable,
Measuring Vinyl Coated Cable
or look to our product specifications page.
If the coated or finished diameter is ¼”, use a ¼” wire rope clip.
Lap Splice
The preferred method for splicing two cables together using wire rope clips is forming two interconnected eyes,
Interconnected Eye
but for less critical applications, a lap splice can be used.
Lap Splice
Overlap the two seized ends of the wire rope by twice the amount of turnback used in a traditional eye termination.
Lap SpliceLap Splice
Using twice the number of clips required for a single eye termination, place the first clip one saddle length from the end of one of the dead ends, ensuring you don’t saddle a dead horse.
Tighten and torque that clip to the recommend torque value.
Work your way down the length of the cable equally spacing and hand tightening the clips.
Remove any slack in the line between clips as you work your way down.
Once you’ve used half of the clips, reverse their orientation to saddle the live end of the other portion of rope.
Once all of the clips have been applied and the slack removed, work from the first clip you installed and tighten and torque all the remaining clips.
The process is even easier for fist grip clips because saddle orientation doesn’t matter due to their mirrored design.
Fist Grip Lap Splice
Single and Double stamped cable clamps require a slightly different assembly procedure.
Stamped Cable Clamps
First, make sure the cable’s final diameter matches the clip you are using.
Then, seize the end of the cable.
Unscrew the nuts and remove the top plate.
Place the cable into the body of the clip and work it into the grooves and around the bolts, leaving at least 2 cable diameters of dead end protruding from the body.
Stamped Cable Clamps
Form the eye to the size you require and work the cable into the other side.
Place the top plate onto the body to capture the cable and tighten the nuts by hand.
Use a wrench for final tightening while alternating between nuts to ensure equal pressure.
Stamped Cable Clamps
If you wish, trim and seize any excess dead-end protruding from the clip, being sure to leave at least 2 cable diameters.
For single stamped cable clamps use the same guidelines as you would for a double stamped clamp.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us, and please subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos on various rigging topics.

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